Aug. 9, 2007
(San Francisco) - USF opened practices in preparation of the 31st season of volleyball on the Hilltop under new head coach Gilad Doron. The Dons welcome back a team focused and dedicated to elevating the team to the best year in program history en route to its second NCAA Tournament berth.
USF returns six starters from last year's record-setting team and more than 95 percent of the kills from the Dons offense, which averaged nearly 16 kills per game while running a 6-2 attack in 2006. Four seniors look to finish their careers with an NCAA Tournament appearance. All-American candidate Kristin Hasselberg headlines the group after earning All-WCC First Team honors last season after ranking in the top three among league kills (4.57) and point (5.13) leaders. Outside hitter Brynn Maurer shattered the Dons all-time digs record (1,359) last season and enters her final campaign in the Green and Gold ranked eighth among WCC career leaders.
Opposite hitter Linzy Kearney continues to climb USF's career blocks leader board, entering 2007 in ninth place (234). Setter Ally Henthorn missed all last season with a knee injury and looks for a strong finish to her career.
"These seniors bring the leadership and the experience that every coach would like to see. I look for them to come in with high expectations for the season and make something special happen for the team and for the university," Doron said.
Junior middle blockers Alix Gombos and Carly Babin return after outstanding sophomore seasons. Gombos earned All-WCC Honorable Mention selection after ranking second on the team in kills (3.08) and ranked second among league leaders in attack percentage (.345). Babin led the Dons and rated second among WCC blocking leaders (1.30) and turned in the second highest single-season block tally in program history with 143.
Sophomore setter Darcy Carroll helped run the Dons 6-2 offense last season along with departed senior Jamie Kartchner. An excellent distributor, Carroll led USF in assists and enters her junior year ranked seventh in career assists (1,148) and figured prominently for the Dons as they hit at a .235 percentage in 2006 - the second best mark in school history. Darcy's younger sister, sophomore libero Haley, enjoyed an outstanding year in her first season in the Green and Gold, becoming just the second player in school history to surpass 500 digs in a season (522). A 2006 WCC Freshman Team selection, Haley ranked third among league leaders in digs (4.79) and was fourth in aces (0.38). Sophomore outside hitter Anna Berger enjoyed a solid first year for the Dons, ranking third on the team in kills (2.48) and fourth in digs (1.98).
"We have a very, very talented group," Doron said. "We can have a very successful season if we can all make the adjustments to work together. If our minds are on the same page, we can do some great things here at the University of San Francisco."
USF welcomes an outstanding trio of newcomers to the fold this season. Addie Webster, a junior outside hitter, transfers to the Hilltop after two strong seasons at Eastern Washington. The 2005 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, Webster earned Big Sky Second Team honors last season, averaging 3.76 kills and 3.62 digs for the Eagles.
San Francisco's 2007 recruiting classes in one of the best in school history and features a pair of players energized and ready to compete immediately. Freshman opposite Sarah Mandala is one of the top recruits landed by the Dons and captured Sierra League MVP honors following her senior season at St. Lucy's Priory High School, averaging 4.1 kills and 1.7 blocks per game. Freshman setter Alaina Sully captured All-CIF Division I Second Team honors after a strong senior campaign at Woodbridge High School. The Sea View League and All-City MVP set the Warriors to their third straight league in 2006.
San Francisco kicks off the 31st season of Dons volleyball Friday, August 24 in Seattle, WA at the Washington Husky Invitational. USF's first opponent is tournament host and the 2005 NCAA National Champion Huskies. Cal State Northridge and Fresno State complete the tournament field. The Dons host their first of two tournaments when they welcome Colgate, Eastern Washington and Oral Roberts for the USF Asics/PowerAde Challenge. The event, now in its fifth year kicks off Friday August 31 when USF plays its home opener against the Golden Eagles at 7:00 PM at War Memorial Gym. After completing tournament play, the Dons host rising Pac-10 power Oregon Tuesday September 4, with a 7:00 PM first serve.